29 February 2012

thinking about my dad

This month has been a hard one for my Dad.  The brother immediately above him in age died about a week and a half ago from liver cancer.  He had been sick for years, but he declined very quickly at the end and even though Dad went out to AZ to be with him at the end, Brian was not coherent when he arrived and shortly thereafter slipped into a coma, dying a couple of days later.

I can't imagine what it would be like to lose one of my sisters, and my father has had to mourn the deaths of 3 of his brothers in the last 20 years, two of them in the last 10.

So, in honor of my wonderful Dad who I love up to the moon, here is a reprise of a poem I wrote about him a few years ago.  This was prompted by a memory from when I was around 5 or 6.

Her first Father-Daughter dance

He lounges in the brown tweed Lay-Z-Boy,
the sound of raucous, cheering fans,
competing with the crunch of Fritos.

She is six and doesn’t understand
football belongs to men.
No Girls Allowed.

A creak, the chair leans back, arm raised
for the pass, next moment he is on his feet
shouting at the officials: Fourth down!

Sometimes she crawls onto his lap,
he buttons her into his big brown sweater.
In whispers her education begins.

His beard scratches her ear as he unfolds
Walter Payton’s record; the importance
of a good wide receiver

Soon she joins the groan at the fumble,
the botched two-point conversion or
the missed hold call.

17 to 20! two-minute warning!
The Bears run out—a punt return.
It will take a miracle!

She grips her Dr. Pepper.  
It doesn’t matter that she is too warm under the sweater.
It doesn’t matter she is not a son.

21 January 2012

Time for a new tagline

For years my tagline has been "The wonderings and wanderings of a living oxymoron."  This was very meaningful to me because I really wrestled with how to bring into cohesive wholeness this seeming dichotomy between my love of all things domestic--including cooking, organizing a household, and making things grow--with my passionate pursuit of intellectual understanding.  It wasn't a combination that I saw modeled in my circle of acquaintance and it was questioned by many well-meaning people who continually tried to pigeon-hole me in an attempt to know and understand me.  There were always folks who accepted this strange commingling in me, some who even celebrated it, declaring my Renaissance Woman status.  But in the midst of that I felt the need to defend and explain, even in my blog header.

Recently (in the last few months) I realized that my tagline didn't resonate any more.  I knew of, if not personally, multiple other women who loved the quotidian practice of homemaking while also pursuing a life of the mind.  Whole communities of women existed online who were engineers who love canning, or artists who shared their cooking or cleaning practices, etc. and my own life was now peopled with men and women who celebrated and engaged with internal dichotomies of all sorts.

As I considered what to change the tagline to, I realized that I needed something that expressed my love for both the substantial material world and the world of ideas AND that embraced my conviction that my spiritual life and intimacy with Christ is what framed it all and made sense of these varied and sometimes divergent loves.  The newest iteration is this "Living in the midst of the material and ethereal and bringing it all into subjection to Christ."  That expresses my situation a bit more clearly and succinctly, but I am not certain yet if it is the most accurate version.  If you have any suggestions or feedback on this, I welcome it!

01 January 2012

2012 ~ the year of meditation ~

view of city from south loop/pilsen 2009
2011 was a good year.  It was a year of preparation and that is what happened.  Sara and I were able to pay off all of our debt and increase our charitable giving, I started graduate school, and we even managed to get 8 hrs of sleep a night most of the year ;-)

2012 looks to be a busy year--in 2 weeks I'll begin my second semester of grad school, move to working part-time at my current job, and begin the adventure of full-time grad school.  This summer I hope to road trip to visit PhD programs and in the fall I will begin my final year of grad school and my thesis.  I will also be applying to PhD programs.

With all that is on my plate, especially in the realm of study and plans for the future, it is imperative that the truth find a home DEEP in my heart.  To that end, this is the year of mediation.  My intellect is an important part of my life and my intimacy with God.  All the exercise it is going to be getting with a full-time grad school class load means that my heart needs to be kept fit as well.  Rather than reading through the Bible again, as I have in past years, it has become clear that I need to go deep and build strong habits.  I will be reading through the Bible with a program that has been recommended to me at least 2 years in a row, including by Doug (post linked to above).  If you decided to do this as well, please let me know and perhaps we can share some of our fruit.

This will be a busy, full year, but I am certain that it will also be a year like none other for growth in maturity and intimacy with Christ.
many thanks to Jason Clark and his wonderful photo skills for this fun pic!

29 November 2011

wishing for international travel

path outside Pluscarden Abbey, Northern Scotland
It is now officially over a year since the last time I was out of the country.  Sara and I traveled for 8 days to Scotland with a brief stop in Copenhagen in Oct/Nov of 2010.  It was one of the best vacations of my adult life.  I really think I could live in Edinburgh for the rest of my natural life (and I am still trying to figure out how I could swing a PhD there....)  One of the things I love about the British Isles is their commitment to walking holidays.  I grew up in the land of roadtrips and I treasure the hours, days, and occasional weeks the my family spent on the road exploring the glories of these United States.  Walking across the US is something only a very few ever even think of attempting.  But in Scotland or England, it is entirely doable in 2 or 3 weeks.

Which brings me to my current timewaster--researching walking trips in Scotland.  I've mentioned before how much I love walking and hiking.  Often it seems the perfect antidote to my monkey mind.  Today I wandered around cyberland looking at options and found a fun website that outlines some of the best walking trips in that lovely and rugged country.

The plan, currently, is to plan one of these trips, possibly the Coast to Coast route, to celebrate the completion of my MA (estimated May 2013).  That gives us more than enough time to get more fit and to do some shorter hikes here in the US.  This makes me VERY EXCITED!  

Until that day, I am going to have to satisfy my wanderlust with more local travel and look for other opportunities that the Lord may be opening up.  It is a little easier to wait with something like this on the horizon.

17 November 2011

Pantoum of a Single Woman

I've been writing poetry as my weekly class assignments for my Forms of Poetry class this semester but much of it is not really worth sharing.  However, this past weekend I wrote a pantoum that I and my professor (and my classmates, I think) really enjoyed.  Hope you enjoy it too.

Btw, a pantoum is a form written in 4 line stanzas where the 2nd and 4th lines are repeated in the following stanza as lines 1 and 3.  It creates a rhythmic repetition that works for a variety of topics and styles, but seems to work particularly well with this one.

Pantoum of a Single Woman

I borrow babies, boys and girls,
their parents think I’m generous.
I’m only thinking of myself--
how can I sate this empty womb?

They think I’m generous and kind;
I give them several hours away.
To sate my empty womb takes time,
“Just dinner and a movie?” “Great.”

Those extra hours away, sweet bliss,
a tired couple’s desperate dream.
No chicken strips or dumb cartoons,
real conversation, what a treat.

Every tired couple’s dream
an evening free of dirty diapers;
uninterrupted conversation
like stolen sweet, forbidden fruit.

“Have an evening free of diapers.”
I am just thinking of myself,
holding them--forbidden fruit--
“I’ll borrow your babies any time.”

14 November 2011

a cruciform heart

Reading my blogroll at work might be a dangerous practice.  Lately there have been too many posts that pierce my heart.  Not sure if the piercing is from the pointedness of the posts, or the thinness of my heart skin.  

Ann writes heartbreakingly of being abandoned in the jungle and being broken in your affluence and I can barely take it in.  Her words dance past my walls and barriers, going straight for the softest places in my heart, never caring what my intellect wants to say to keep a safe distance.

And then another comments on this story, with her own chapter of heart-tearing, truth bearing reality and I wonder if I will ever be capable of such transparency.  When I think I am full up and there is no more room to hear hearts crying or truth piercing, the wonderful encourager at Gypsy Momma weighs in about the beauty and power of being free to not be fine.

Thanksgiving wells up that I have this silent Monday to reflect and be quiet.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Break me open to make me whole.

11 November 2011

Me too...

RZIM reposted a short article about G.K Chesterton that I love.  The quote below from the close of the article grabs my heart and my imagination:

To everyone his life affected, and continues to affect, G.K. Chesterton, with and without words, made a boisterous point about delighting in life to the fullest; life that is fullest, first and foremost, because there is someone to thank. He writes:

You say grace before meals.
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and the pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

Chesterton was a man alive with the gusto of resurrection, the marvel of truth, and the thankful foresight of the coming King among us
I especially want that last line to be true of my life.  Please let people say that about me too....